What things made you happy when you were a child? What activities make you feel happy now? What kinds of people make you happy? When during the day do you feel happiest? Does food ever make you happy? What do you do to stay happy? What would make you happy in the future? When do you feel happy at work? Do you feel happy when you buy new things?
  • Ridiculous (adj.) - stupid or unreasonable and deserving to be laughed at.
  • Scenario (noun) - a description of possible actions or events in the future.
  • Kick (noun) - a strong feeling of excitement and pleasure.
  • Dopamine (noun) - a hormone (= chemical substance) that is made naturally in the body and may also be given as a drug.
  • On the same wavelength - thinking in a similar way and understanding each other well.
  • Endorphin (noun) - a chemical naturally, released in the brain to reduce pain, that in large amounts can make you feel relaxed or full of energy.
  • Do the trick (idiom) - if something does the trick, it has the necessary or wanted effect.
  • Retail therapy (idiom) - the act of buying special things for yourself in order to feel better when you are unhappy.
  • High (noun) - a period of extreme excitement or happiness when you feel full of energy, often caused by a feeling of success, or by drugs or alcohol or a religious experience.
  • Elation (noun) - a state of extreme happiness or excitement.
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Questions and answers
M: What things made you happy when you were a child?

R: Well, spending time with my family and friends, we used to make up these ridiculous games and scenarios to act out. Oh, I also used to get a kick out of playing on video games consoles as well, when I was younger.

M: What activities make you feel happy now?

R: Well, anything that makes me feel successful. So you know, doing exercise or completing all of my jobs for the day. Oh, and, well, seeing my friends. I also quite like getting nice messages on social media. It's a nice little dopamine hit. Although I wouldn't do it all the time, of course.

M: What kinds of people make you happy?

R: Well, I get a lot of enjoyment out of being with people that I'm on the same wavelength as. So, well, like the kind of people that you can just be yourself around. So in my case, that's, you know, cracking dark jokes, and having fun with my friends. That gets the endorphins going.

M: When during the day, do you feel happiest?

R: Yeah, in the mornings, when I've done my workout and all my little chores for the day, I just feel ready to go. Especially after a good night's rest.

M: Does food make you happy?

R: If it's nice food that I like, then yes. I doubt I'd be very happy if I were ordering bananas and raisins all the time. And I suppose I like ordering McDonald's and other kinds of fast food from time to time. Again, not all the time. I think I feel my happiest when I have really healthy food because you feel the energy coming. And you know that you're fueling your body with the right stuff for the day. So that's probably a more sustainable kind of happiness, in my case.

M: What do you do to stay happy?

R: Well, I read a lot, and then I exercise regularly and I have a job and friends that I love. You know, it's, I couldn't ask for anything more, really. It's like my own personal nirvana right now.

M: What would make you happy in the future?

R: I have no idea, actually. I think it was William Shakespeare that said the future is like the great undiscovered country. So that's why I don't really have a clue. If I'm pushed, then I like to think it will be continued success and, well, opportunities to be around the people that I like and do the things I love. That should do the trick quite nicely.

M: When do you feel happy at work?

R: I think when I get into that flow state, where everything's coming together, and you sort of time or the feeling or experience of time falls away, and you're really into what you're doing. And all the people around you are doing the same thing as well. I also quite like being in a workspace where I feel connected to the people I'm with. And we have a shared sense of humour. It almost feels like home in that sense. So I get a lot of happiness out of that.

M: Do you feel happy when you buy new things?

R: Everybody likes a little bit of retail therapy, don't they? although admittedly, in my case, and probably the case of many other people it's like a temporary high, but it's still nice when you buy things that you've wanted for a long time with money that you've worked hard to get. I think you get at least satisfaction out of it if not a little bit of elation.
M: Hey, thank you, Rory, for your answers! You know what? I've been checking the Forbes.

R: While I was talking?

M: Doesn't matter. And I found world's 20 happiest countries. What do you think? In 2022, okay? On Forbes, so like super official, professional. So what do you think? Number one, top, like the happiest country ever?

R: Is it going to be something like?

M: Scotland?

R: No, no, it won't. I already know that for a fact. It's gonna be somewhere like Denmark or something, isn't it? Because they're usually ranked quite high. So it's usually like Nordic...

M: Ooh... Very close.

R: Nordic countries. Denmark or Finland or someplace like that.

M: Ooh... Well done... So which country is number one? Finland or Denmark?

R: One of them is the happiest country in the world?

M: Yes, Denmark or Finland? Come on.

R: Finland then. Go on.

M: Yes, yes, yes, that's my Rory boy. He knows, he knows. Yeah, Finland is number one, then Denmark number two. Iceland number three. What's number four.

R: I'm gonna guess, is it like a non European country then?

M: No. European, European.

R: Oh, Sweden. So it's all the Nordic countries are quite happy with themselves.

M: We used to make up ridiculous jokes. First of all, we used to make up things. So in the past, not anymore. Make-up jokes, we kind of imagined them. We created them. Make-up jokes. Sorry, games.

R: Well, you can make up a joke as well.

M: Ridiculous. Is it positive or negative? Is it like funny in a good way or ridiculous? Like, you look ridiculous.

R: Well, here it's funny in a good way. It's like reminiscing about the past. So it's like, oh, it was ridiculous. But it's still fun. It makes no sense. Or it's a bit silly. But it's a fun thing to do.
M: You said that I get a kick out of something.

R: Yeah, like a kick is a slight high from doing things.

M: Instead of saying I'm happy when, you can say I get a kick out of swimming, I get a kick out of listening to IELTS Speaking for Success podcast. I get a kick out of being what? In bed. Sleeping.

R: I thought you were doing like a gap fill there, I get a kick out of being blank in bed. Sleeping in bed, of course, is the answer.

M: And games consoles.

R: I couldn't say explicitly which games consoles without being paid for advertising. So if any companies are listening, then I will explicitly mention your games console, if you decide to pay me for doing it.

M: Something makes me happy. Okay? So food makes me happy, people make me happy. Or I enjoy, right? So synonyms. I'm content with. Rory is happy when he gets all his work done. Actually, you said like all my jobs done. So it's, I get all my work done. To get something done. Right? Or get all my jobs done. So the structure, right? When I get things done, I feel really happy.

R: It's interesting though, because to get something done sometimes means getting someone else to do it for you. But then in the context that I'm talking about it's you doing the jobs. So you have to be very careful about when you use it. Like I can get things done means I can do the job. But I get things done also means to have it done for you. Like I get my hair done. But also I got my laundry done the other day. Oh, grammar. Either way, get it done.

M: And that's a synonym for you is I like the dopamine hit. Dopamine is this, you know, hormone. So I like the dopamine hit from doing something. Hit? Like... Dopamine.

R: Like the nice feeling you get when you see your notifications.

M: Yeah. And Rory told us that I like the dopamine hit from getting the messages on social media, and people usually write Rory, you're awesome! Rory, you're so handsome! Rory, I love you! Rory!

R: I actually... Actually what happens is the people say I listen to you and Maria and I like you both. So it's not always about me. But it's nice to be included, I think, no?

M: I also like the dopamine hit from reading all your lovely messages that you write in the comments telling us what makes you happy.

R: Yes.

M: Also I check the internet and the whole truth about happiness I get here, you know...

R: From the internet?
M: From the internet, yes. Like we believe every word.

R: Like Abraham Lincoln said "Don't believe everything you read on the internet".

M: No, no, no, we believe every word. And according to some kind of website online, what makes people happy? So usually health and well-being. You can also mention like, oh, my well-being. So it's kind of like my happiness, my life, my well-being. Physical or mental. Having a sense of purpose, right? Living conditions, feeling safe and feeling in control. Also, being in nature makes people happy. Having a meaningful job. And the last point is having more money. Yeah? So you can mention some of these or all of these things, dear listener? Rory didn't mention, I think, anything.

R: I did not. But then of course, things like family and physical well-being, you know, well, maybe physical well-being is quite a high-level phrase. But family and purpose, they're all about intermediate level, to be honest with you. So if you're aiming for a higher band, then you probably want to go with a vocabulary I was using.

M: Yeah. Another synonym is I get a lot of enjoyment out of something or doing something, right? Or you can say like I derive, I take pleasure, I derive pleasure from something or I get a lot of enjoyment out of people who... Right? And you've used an idiom, Rory. A really nice idiom about waves. And I got a joke about waves as well.

R: Oh, wait, okay.

M: No, tell us about the idiom. Idiom time. Idiom!

R: To be on the same wavelength. That's just when you feel the sense of connection to people and you have things in common. Like you and I are on the same wavelength when it comes to the podcast, most of the time. Not about your jokes. Sorry, but we're gonna hear them anyway. Right?

M: What's the problem with my jokes?

R: We don't have enough time in the day. Tell the joke.

M: No, no, no, on the same wavelength. Wave is like a wave. Sea. Right? Wavelength. One word. To be on the same wavelength is an idiom. It's actually a C2. So the proficient level. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. It's like, whoa, we're flying high here. So, to think in a similar way, to understand each other, right? So I get a lot of enjoyment from people who I'm on the same wavelength. With?

R: As.

M: As? Why did you use as? Why not just without?

R: Because it's a comparison. I suppose that's the difference between the two, like, I'm on the same wavelength as someone else. It's like saying I'm the same as someone. In the same way. I'm on the same wavelength with somebody. That's about the feeling of being together. But that's like a distinction that only something like language professors would have a discussion about. I don't see the difference between the two. I like people I'm on the same wavelength as or I'm on the same wavelength with. Because as isn't a preposition, is it?
M: I think, here, it's not a preposition.

R: Yeah. Like, well, then that's the case. So if you were ending the sentence, you would use as, because otherwise, you know, there's that rule that you shouldn't end a sentence with a preposition.

M: Also, we can say that I'm on the same wavelength about this point, right? My friends and I are on the same wavelength about this. Oh, the joke. What does the ocean say to the beach? It just waved.

R: You've made me very unhappy with that joke.

M: I'm happy with people I can be *myself around. So to be around people, to be yourself around these people.

R: So, let's unpack that then. So when you can be yourself, it's like when you can be natural and authentic, not pretending to be something else, not overly formal or overly polite. It doesn't mean you're crazy. It just means that you're, you're yourself. You don't have to pretend to be anything that you're not. And then be yourself around others. So it's like be there with people and then they are around you. They're close to you. Or you're close to them.

M: And that gets the endorphins going. So the first hormone is dopamine. And I get a lot of dopamine from doing something. And this situation or these people get the endorphins going. Endorphins.

R: Yes. So there you go. Technical band nine vocabulary for a high score.

M: Band nine score. So mornings are the happiest time in Rory's life after I've done my workout. So Present Perfect. After I've had my coffee, after I've done my workout. Or after I've listened to IELTS Speaking for Success podcast.

R: Or all of them at the same time. Well, maybe not coffee and workout at the same time. Chores are little jobs that you have to do around your house to make it function. So in my case, the chores would be... There's things like language, practice, tidying, preparing clothes for the day. It's not very intense. Like some people's chores are wipe the floor or sweep the floor. To do the hoovering, doing their laundry. But for me, because I'm by myself, it's very simple stuff.

M: And we usually say that I do the chores. So doing the chores.

R: Oh, yes, that's a good point. You do your chores, you don't make chores. Well, you can make chores, but it's like make chores for yourself. So you don't really want to do that because it's like saying, you give yourself more work to do than you need to.

M: You're fueling your body with some healthy stuff. So to fuel your body with something, to add fuel to your body. Like petrol you add to cars. So you're fueling your body with the right stuff. Not McDonald's and pizza. These are Rory's guilty pleasures. So you can say like, oh, McDonald's is my guilty pleasure.

R: I have pizza sitting in my refrigerator right now waiting for me and I'm really looking forward to it.
M: Yum, yum, yum, yum, yum.

R: Nom, nom, nom.

M: Rory's personal nirvana. I love this expression. Like, it's like my own personal nirvana.

R: But we're... The only reason that came up for me was because we're studying Buddhism right now. And I think that people get a little bit confused about what nirvana actually is. So to cut a long story short, Nirvana in Buddhism is like a feeling of, it's like, where you go when you let go of all personal attachments. And it's, it's not like heaven. Because in heaven, you see the things that you're attached to, but it's a good, it's a good thing to reach towards. Whereas in the common understanding of Nirvana, it's like a place where you are calm and at peace and happy. And obviously, those are two very different things. So if you're a Buddhist, then I'm using the more commonly used one, not the religious.

M: So dear listener, it's a nice word to use. So doing something is my own personal nirvana. Rory, are you a hedonist?

R: Well, I like doing the things I like to do. I'm not really sure that means the same thing. If you're a hedonist that's like when you put having fun and a good time ahead of everything else in life. And I don't do that all the time. I don't think anybody could, they would probably die.

M: Hedonic happiness is happiness derived from pleasure. So a hedonist is a person who does things just to get as much pleasure as they possibly can.

R: Yes.

M: Am I a hedonist?

R: No. Well, I don't like I mean, there's a thing in science, I think we've talked about it before. It's called hedonic adaptation, where you do things that make you happy, but then you need to try even harder to get the same level of happiness each time. So your behaviour to get this pleasure becomes more extreme over time. And that's not good. It's the reason why lots of people in positions of power get caught doing crazy and unseemly things. Because they're just trying to get that same high that they couldn't using the normal means anymore. So there you go, hedonic adaptation. Try and avoid it. Be level-headed.

M: Here, Rory got poetic. It was Shakespeare that said undiscovered countries.

R: Well, the future is the undiscovered country, and at least in my understanding of it. So it's sort of like when someone asks you a question about a country that you don't know about, you're just like, I have no idea. I don't know what's gonna make me happy in the future. Probably the same things as now.

M: Future is an undiscovered country. Okay, dear listener? So when the examiner asks you anything about the future you go, you know, Shakespeare once said, that future is an undiscovered country.

R: Well, I don't know if you can say that. Like, I mean, it's a bit contrived. But at least in my case, it's true. Because it's just another way of saying, like, I have no idea. Like, I can't see it in the future. And then you launch into my guess would be the same things as now, but who knows?
M: Being with the people I love will do the trick.

R: Yay, do the trick.

M: So it will keep me happy. It will keep doing the trick.

R: Yeah. If something does the trick, it does the job that it's supposed to do.

M: Or McDonald's will do the trick.

R: In a pinch.

M: McDonald's, you can feel free and sponsor our podcast. Just get in touch right in the comments and we'll get back to you. Okay? Rory gets into that flow state. Can you imagine like Rory? Our Rory, he gets into the flow, you know, like, he's kind of like all this universe and energy, he feels the flow.

R: So the flow state is like the balance between what you can do and how, like how difficult something is. So if you're like, really into something, then it doesn't really matter how difficult it is because you're like so involved, you don't pay attention to being bored or anxious about it, you just keep focused on that one thing. And it's really good. I love it when that happens. It almost never does these days. But once you discovered how to do it, then you just keep those conditions or try to keep those conditions.

M: A bit of retail therapy. So when you talk about shopping, buying something new, it's retail therapy. Retail? When you buy things, right?

R: Well, when you, when you buy things in order to feel better about yourself. Yes.

M: But retail therapy is only a temporary high.

R: Yes. Or a temporary fix.

M: A temporary fix. Yeah, like it's a quick fix, like bam and you're happy. And then you're sad again. So when you go shopping, you buy something, it's like, hey, it's a temporary high, maybe like for 5 minutes, 10 minutes. Maybe, I don't know, half a day. Depends on the purchase. Yeah, but it's like a temporary fix. It's a quick fix. It's a temporary high. You're high for a short period of time. High in the sky. I'm on top of the world. I'm on top of the world. Getting a ball. Don't stop me now.

R: I hate to stop you now, but it's time to stop the episode. Thank you for listening!

M: Yeah, we did have a ball recording this episode. Please make comments about what makes you happy. What would make you happy in the future?

R: Or any suggestions about things we could do to make ourselves happy? That's nice. It's nice to get suggestions.

M: What can Rory do to make himself happy?

R: Happier. I'm quite happy with my life right now.

M: Aww... Bye!

R: Bye!

Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
Get exclusive episodes on IELTS Speaking parts 1, 2, and 3
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